The Creative Cloud is great, but it isn’t cheap, and with subscriptions being the only option, you’ll literally be paying forever! Despite what some people think, its not your only option. There are a wide variety of tools out there that are designed to help you get going without paying $50 a month ( that’s $600 a year if you’re curious).
Why Not Just Pay?
While plenty of people have been quick to defend the change (and their sponsors) as a cost savings, they seem to forget that you’re unlikely to buy a new Adobe suite every year, and in just two years of subscription you’ll be paying more for the same access to the product. Basically, you’ve devolved to renting your software. And, we all know that renting is usually more expensive. Just look at real estate, car leases and computer hardware. Why would software be any different?
If you need the seamless transitions between the tools that the suite offers, or if you need it for something like a college class (get the education discount, if you are in that situation) then you may need the actual Creative Cloud. If not, then consider these comparable options for the most popular parts of the Creative Cloud Suite.
Alternatives to Adobe Acrobat
Formulate Pro is the tool for reading and writing on PDFs for all of your work needs. The best thing is that Formulate Pro works with pen tablets to let you free annotate a PDF.
Alternative to Photo Shop
GIMP is a free, and open source image editor that has features similar to Photoshop. IT works equally well with photos and the creation of original art. The functionality can be extended by adding on customization options and 3rd party plugins. It runs on Macs, PC and Linux.
Alternative to After Effects (or Premier)
If you want to edit video then the best free option that you have is DaVinci Resolve , and the Lite version is free. This software excels at what it did in its origins, color corrections, but it does have a great set of basic editing tools. You could also consider Avidemux (this is running on Windows, Mac, Linux), Blender or Magistro a web based option.
Alternative to Dream Weaver
Aptana Studio 3 is a great option for a WYSIWYG option for HTML 5 editing. It allows for live editing and includes the kind of customization options that will allow you to add in an array of features similar to Dream Weaver. If you’re on a Mac you could also try SeaMonkey or BlueGriffon.
Alternative to Illustrator
InkScape is your go to for creating and manipulating vector graphics for free. The system comes withe a set of flexible drawing tools, broad file format compatibility a text tool that allows you to work with a range of fonts, and Bezier and spiro curves. It runs on Macs, PC and Linux. You could also use Open Office Draw.
Alternative to Flash
Synfig is an open source alternative to making 2D animations with vectors and bitmaps. The user community is highly active, and updates are fairly frequent. It runs on Macs, PC and Linux. You could also use Apache Flex.
Alternative to Soundbooth (or Audition)
Audacity is a well know alternative for audio editing, and is currently used by many popular podcasts. The bill themselves as, “easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems”.
Alternative to InDesign (or InCopy)
Scribus is a great a page layout program with support for design work using CMYK colors, spot colors, ICC color management and versatile PDF creation. It also has support for vector drawing tools, support for a huge number of file types via import/export filters, emulation of color blindness or the rendering of markup languages. It runs on Macs, PC and Linux.
The other major features include the ability to get a library of fonts (just search free fonts and you’ll see a lot of options exist here for free, and a place to make creative portfolios but you could use a free account with Crevado for that. Looking for stock photos? Then Unsplash might be right for you. If you’re a fan of Light Room then consider LightZone.